November 2010 newsletter

News from Dunbar Gardens November 2010

Katherine Lewis weaving in her workshop

Upcoming Events

Art’s Alive! 2010 at Maple Hall in La Conner, WA, November 5-7. Annual celebration of local arts in the nearby town of La Conner.  Katherine will have a basket in the open show.

Adornment, a wearable art show at Gallery Cygnus, November 12-December 24, 109 Commercial Street, La Conner. Gem of a gallery in La Conner. Katherine will have one of her willow purses in this show.

willow basket purse

Pleasant Ridge Gallery at Rexville: November 19-22, at the Rexville Grange, 19299 Rexville Grange Road (1 block from the Rexville Grocery) Annual arts & crafts show featuring ceramics, glass, painting, photography, woodwork, and basketry. Opening night, Friday, Nov. 19 will have a party with Celtic music by Campbell Road.

Exploring Baskets: A juried show and sale of work by members of the Northwest Basket Weavers Guild: December 3, 2010 – January 29, 2011, Anacortes, WA. Katherine is involved in organizing this show and expects an outstanding and very diverse exhibit. Members’ work was juried by artists Lanny Bergner and Danielle Bodine.

fitched willow market basket

Katherine has four baskets chosen for the exhibit. The opening will be Friday, Dec. 3 from 6 – 9pm as part of the First Friday Art Walk in Anacortes. On Saturday, December 4 there will be a “holiday themed” Basket Day with classes and demonstrations in conjunction with the show.

Willow Basketmaking Classes with Katherine Lewis

Classes are two days, from 9am to 5pm. Everyone will leave with a finished basket. Class size is limited to 10. Cost is $175 per student which includes materials. We provide tea and coffee. Class will be held at the McLean Road Fire Hall meeting room just down the road from Dunbar Gardens.

January 29-30 (Saturday-Sunday): Oval laundry or garden basket

oval laundry basketgarden basket

Two very useful baskets and a good introduction to oval work in willow. Both of these oval projects start with the same base, using twining and chase weaves. The sides of the basket include a sturdy 4 rod base wale with step up to three rod wale. Both baskets have side weave of French randing, but the laundry basket is taller and straighter where the garden basket flares out. The laundry is finished with a raised end for inset handles; the garden basket has a sturdy handle wrapped with slender willows. Some previous work with willow is suggested, but beginners could also make a gathering basket. There is a registration form on our website.

March 16-20: Northwest Basket Weavers Annual Retreat

willow rope coilKatherine will be teaching a two day class at the retreat this year. The ‘willow rope coil bowl’ will be the project. She is also scheduled to teach a short evening workshop on leather braided handles. See the NWBW website for details and registration.


Katherine’s willow basket “Harvesting the Skagit” was awarded Grand Champion of the 2010 Puyallup Fair in the professional basketry category of the Home Arts competitive exhibits. The Puyallup Fair (officially the Western Washington Fair) draws over a million visitors every year and is the largest attraction held annually in Washington State. Katherine originally made this basket for an exhibit called “Paint Me a River!” that was staged by the Skagit Historical Museum last winter. Katherine is pleased to receive this award for the second year. She also won the 2009 Grand Champion ribbon at the Fair for the basket “Nana Queen”. You can see photos of both the baskets online at Puyallup Fair Grand Champion.

Dunbar gardens farmstand

Farmstand: We still have a selection of garden fresh produce for sale Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 10-5. You can stop by any day of the week if you want to look at the willow baskets we have on hand.

Facebook: Dunbar Gardens has a Facebook page. We post photos of Katherine’s latest baskets, commissions, and photos of the farm as well as other links of interest for willow basketry.

Katherine & Steve


Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

Skagit Valley tulips

April brings us the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. I photographed these beautiful Golden Apeldoorn tulips just around the corner from Dunbar Gardens. This field is located next to McLean Road and has been designated Field 26 on the Roozengaarde “bloom map“. Washington Bulb Company is the largest bulb grower in the US and these tulips are part of their farm production. They have this bloom map on their website that you can check to see the locations of the fields, whether they are in bloom, and which bulb varieties are growing there. This lovely field has Golden Apeldoorn and Elite tulips just beginning to bloom, so it should be a traffic stopper the next couple of weeks.

big clouds over Skagit Valley tulipsThis year above average temperatures have the tulips blooming on the early side. The tulip festival is designated as the month of April, but visitors have already started coming and the early part of the month will be the best part of the”show”. Yesterday we were treated to these impressive clouds over the valley as well. (Click on photo for larger view.)

Skagit Valley tulips

The tulip fields have packed soil roads that are used by the  farm equipment and workers. As long as you stay on these wide paths you can go into the fields and take a few photos. I like to ride the bike down the road and into the field  with my camera. There is a local business Tulip Country Bike Tours that offers bike tours of the flower fields, display gardens, and refreshments and is customized to the weather and field bloom as well as the preference of the group.  They usually ride past Dunbar Gardens on their way back to the home base. It’s enjoyable to meet the variety of people from many places who stop in on one of the bike tours. The smiles on their faces are recommendation enough for taking a bike tour instead of hassling with a car on our country roads.

Dunbar Gardens sign

Hopefully when you visit the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival you might run across one of our signs pointing the way to another roadside attraction! We don’t offer any frills or thrills, but we have this nice selection of willow baskets to check out.

Katherine Lewis willow baskets

Our small farm is admittedly pretty rustic, and I think many visitors that wander down our driveway are surprised at the quality of the willow baskets that they find in our barn. There are few willow basketmakers around let alone one as accomplished as Katherine Lewis. It is enjoyable to explain how we grow the basketry willows, and show folks the freshly harvested bundles.

basketry willows at Dunbar Gardens

Of course, our baskets are available any time of year. We don’t mind if the tulips are the headline act for Spring visitors to our beautiful valley. We figure they will be back to get a taste of the wonderful fruits and vegetables also grown in the valley, take in the Festival of Family Farms in October, or maybe a visit to nearby La Conner to take in the Museum of Northwest Art and eat at our favorite Skagit restaurant Nell Thorn. Stop by, we’re around!


MoNA Style 2010

Basketmaker Katherine Lewis

Katherine sets up her display at MoNA Style

Katherine just participated in MoNA Style 2010. The Museum of Northwest Art in La Conner, WA hosts an annual wearable art show and sale featuring clothing, jewelry, and items for the home. This year’s event featured forty Northwest artists as well as a cafe and fashion shows at local restaurants. The event is one of the fundraisers for the museum each year. This year’s silent auction theme was “Lingerie”. There was a variety of work in ceramics, fiber, metal, and painting. At the end of last year’s show the theme was announced and Katherine decided to create a piece.

artist Katherine Lewis

Katherine’s goal was to make the piece only with willow, which she did except the small amount of thread used in sewing the skirt. There are several different willows used with the natural colors of green, red, and orange. The skirt is made from willow bark which was cut into strips and sewn to a bark waist band which is attached to the top with bark also. The corset part has bark strips to tie it together in the back. The front uses a colorful zig zag weave while the sides were woven with a fitching technique for an open look. The photo above of Katherine with her work was taken by friend and ceramist Dinah Steveni. Below is a slide show of images of the work from several sides and details taken by Steve.

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Art’s Alive! 2009

Nana Queen

Katherine participated in the annual Art’s Alive celebration in nearby La Conner this past weekend. She entered this basket titled “Nana Queen” in the open show at the Maple Hall. On Sunday she demonstrated her basketry at the Skagit Historical Museum.

While she was working, I enjoyed talking to another artist, photographer Jeanne Hansen. She was explaining her black and white film work in particular. I have enjoyed seeing her work in other shows.

Katherine Lewis Art's Alive demo

In the photo of Katherine, you can see her basket “Harvesting the Skagit” behind her to the right. We described this basket in an earlier post about the “Paint Me a River!” exhibit.

There were numerous artist demonstrations throughout the town. After Katherine’s demo, we wandered down to The Artist Remarque to see Jane Penman, metalsmith and lapidarist. She cuts a wide variety of stones in free-form and mounts them in simple silver designs that are quite lovely.